I attended UCSF’s quarterly meeting of its Community Advisory Group on 3rd Dec 2014. (I’m not on the CAG, I went as a member of the public.)
Right now, there are two ongoing projects on the Parnassus campus (that’s the Inner Sunset campus, on the other side of Mount Sutro from Forest Knolls). The first is demolition and landscaping of 374 Parnassus, where a small building is being knocked down and converted to open space. The larger one is work on the old building, UC Hall which was earlier to be knocked down but is now to be converted to offices and housing.
UCSF staff made two presentations about Sutro Forest recently. One was to the Urban Forestry Council. The Council has a listening series in which they invited a large number of stakeholders to talk about San Francisco’s urban forests. (SaveSutro also made a presentation to them about Sutro Forest.) They expect to issue a report possibly next spring.
The other was to the Parks, Recreation and Open Space Committee (PROSAC). Christine Gasparac, who was one of the presenters, said that PROSAC was particularly interested in recreational access to Mount Sutro.
There was some discussion around Sutro Forest. CAG member Dennis Antenore spoke of the management plan written 14 years ago that embodied Best Management Practices. I pointed out that it didn’t – it was designed to cut down most of the trees. What management is implemented depends on what you’re trying to achieve. If you wish to preserve the forest – which is a unique and beautiful jewel of San Francisco – then it requires less intervention, not more. If you’re trying to turn it over to native plants, then you would want to cut down trees. Craig Dawson (also a CAG member, Executive Director of the Sutro Stewards, who favors cutting down trees and using herbicides to stop them coming back) said that the opponents of the plan were stopping UCSF from acting to save the forest and it’s dying.
They’ve been talking about the forest “dying” for years. (Here’s an article from the year 2000 – in which Craig Dawson is quoted. It’s based on the erroneous assumption that eucalyptus has a 100-year life-span, which is not true. It lives 300-500 years.) But experts in forestry, eucalyptus, and ecology have walked through and seen a healthy, thriving forest. Some trees are in poor condition, but that’s natural. If they are actually hazardous, they should of course be removed. But if they’re not, they’re valuable to the forest’s ecology. To say that the forest is dying because some trees in it are in poor condition is like saying San Francisco is dying because it has some people who are old and ailing.
Dr Renee Navarro, UCSF’s Vice Chancellor for Diversity and Outreach, made an excellent presentation about UCSF’s progress in increasing the percentage of women and minorities among its students and employees. On the whole, they’ve done well in terms of employing women; UCSF staff are about 68% women, and even in the rarefied group of the 20 or so people who are in senior management, 40% are female.
For minorities, staff numbers superficially look quite good: around 58% non-white. There are two issues, though. First, most of this diversity is concentrated among the support staff. Only 36% of managers are minorities, and among the senior management, it’s 15%. Second, when it’s broken down, it shows the percentage of African Americans has actually declined between 2006 and 2014 – meaning growth in hiring hasn’t kept pace with UCSF’s expansion from 13 thousand employees in 2006 to 16.5 thousand in 2014. There’s been a marked increase in the percentage of Asian employees (from 33% to 37%), and some increase in the percentage of Hispanic employees, from 11% to 12.%)
It’s possible this reflects the changing demographics of San Francisco and the Bay Area, but UCSF is also taking measures to make attract and retain minority employees, and to create a multicultural and diverse organization.
She also spoke about community partnerships and early outreach to students in High School or even earlier, and opportunities UCSF is trying to create for its own employees to improve their skills and move to higher levels.
UCSF’s Intensive Care Unit at Mount Zion is their designated Ebola Isolation Unit should it become necessary. They are also encouraging medical workers who want to go fight the epidemic in West Africa to do so, preserving their jobs and seniority. There’s a quarantine procedure in place for when they return, depending on the level of exposure they have had. UCSF focuses on professional quarantine, but will co-ordinate with Department of Health in case community quarantine is appropriate.
OTHER ISSUES DISCUSSED
- UCSF’s Mission Bay medical center is currently holding community tours and have had an excellent response. The hospital is scheduled to open February 1st, 2015, when a “stream of ambulances” will transport patients from Parnassus to Mission Bay.
- UCSF has acquired two parcels of land – Blocks 33/ 34 in Mission Bay – and are beginning to plan what they’ll put there. Meanwhile, they are working with the City and the Warriors to figure out how to mitigate the traffic ad parking impact of the planned new stadium, which will be right next to the hospital’s Emergency Room.
- They’re also proceeding with the plan to divest the Laurel Heights campus via a ground lease. They think the actual move from there will take about 4 years. It’s going to be replaced with housing and possibly some retail.
- They continue with efforts to hire locally for construction projects. Part of the issue is they use Union contractors, who for skilled trades favor seniority over local residency. They also compete with other projects that seek to hire local workers in the construction trades.